Hi there! Over here, behind the book case. Yes, here I am. You may have seen my face around town or in the paper, but allow me to introduce myself. I’m the new Director at Caprock Public Library in Quitaque and my name is Wile E. Coyote…oh wait, sorry, child hood programming. My name is Desarae Phipps. I started working at the library this past January, and by summer I inherited the role as Chief Keeper of the Books and Propagator of Bibliophilia. Biblio-what? I just gave you a reason to pull out your dictionary…or Google at any rate. Score one point for the librarian.
Do you remember your hometown library growing up? I do. I remember the very first library I ever went to as a young child. It was a modest, small town library much like ours. I remember feeling a little lost and uncertain in a sea of towering giants whose bellies held books with words I could barely read. It was so quiet and there were so many books. Slowly I learned that the librarians weren’t going to bite and there were some pretty cool things shelved in the belly of those silent, looming giants.
I had barely begun my journey into this world of books when my family up and moved, a four hour hop that crossed state lines and took me to a whole new world. We knew no one. Everything was different. But there was a library.
I had been in the middle of reading a book when we made the move and had to return it unfinished. I had to know how it ended, so we found our new library. I was awe struck by how much bigger this library was, how many more people there were, and how many more books there were! Like a good little reader, I had written down the author and title of my unfinished book and handed it to one of the bespectacled adults behind the counter. My new Book Guardian guided me through a maze of shelves in a section for readers just my age, a whole section! When she pulled out the book, I was so happy to hold some piece of home, something familiar and comforting in my hand. Then to my amazement, I realized this book wasn’t alone…it was part of a series that had over 30 titles! Wonder of wonders! In a strange new place, I had found welcoming friends.
That was the start of my love affair with libraries. The world opened up to me between the pages and shelves of that establishment. I discovered nonfiction books and inter library loans. Do you know how exciting it is to realize that ANY book I wanted to read was there for the asking? (We offer inter library loans as well!) I read books on sign language, cross-stitching, makeup, foreign countries, and how to play the harmonica…you know, just in case I ended up in prison and needed something to do.
There were books on cassette, music CD’s, and movies. And it was in those hallowed halls that I pulled a strange looking movie case off the shelf and asked if we could watch it. That movie was Star Wars. Let’s just say that was an historical moment (have you seen my t-shirt?!).
I remember every librarian in that library, even the grumpy ones…especially the grumpy ones. I learned to wait until they were busy so I could ask one of the other librarians for help. We knew each other on a first name basis and they knew my family’s library routine. Even when my family made the big move to Texas some 9 years ago, I kept up correspondence with one of my favorite librarians.
That is the history I bring with me as I step into this role as Director of your library. I love books, and I love to introduce others to books so they can love them too. As I see it, a library is not a quite sanctum of dusty novels, but a warm and welcoming home to new worlds and old friends. I look forward to seeing all your faces soon and keeping you abreast of goings on at the library through this column. Until next time, I’ll just be over here behind the shelves.